Search press releases

Advanced search options
Dial 999 in an emergency
Dial 101 in a non-emergency

Wake up, don’t fake up: Police call for YouTube stars to stop using fake make up

  • Counterfeit cosmetics contain rats’ droppings as well as toxic levels of arsenic, mercury and lead
  • Fake make up can cause harmful infections, rashes and even burns

The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is calling for YouTube stars to stop using fake make up in their online tutorials.

Today (Thursday 6 June), on Anti-Counterfeiting Day, PIPCU is warning people that using counterfeit make up can cause harmful infections, rashes and even burns. Fake make up can also lack the quality of genuine make up.

Counterfeit beauty products are becoming increasingly common and easily available on auction sites, online market places, rogue websites and social media.

Laboratory tests have shown counterfeit cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara, lipgloss and foundation have been found to contain toxic levels of chemicals and harmful substances such as arsenic, mercury and lead. All of these can cause allergic reactions, such as skin irritation, swelling, rashes and burns as well as leaving the consumer with longer term health problems.

Counterfeit make-up is often produced in un-sanitised and un-hygienic factories and there have been cases where rats’ droppings and poison have also been found in the phoney cosmetics.

Detective Inspector Nick Court of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit said:


“We’re concerned that popular YouTube stars are using counterfeit make up in their tutorial videos. This not only puts them at risk of infections, rashes and burns, it could also encourage their followers to use the same harmful products.


“It’s great that YouTubers are calling out counterfeit make up for not giving shoppers the same quality as the genuine brands. We are however keen to make sure they don’t expose themselves to health risks in the process. Make sure you wake up, don’t fake up!”


With make up also available for purchase online, officers are also warning people about the consequences of providing personal details to non-reputable sellers. Criminals often use people's personal details to commit fraud such as registering counterfeit websites. PIPCU officers have overseen the disruption of over 70,000 counterfeit websites since the unit's inception in 2013.

Counterfeit websites can be identified by making simple checks. Some of the sites include poor spelling, grammar, images and inconsistent fonts.

PIPCU also works closely with manufacturers, brand guardians, partner agencies and governmental departments to identify counterfeit websites. Action is then taken to suspend the sites by working closely with Nominet, the UK’s central registry for all .uk domains once it is established that the websites are in breach of the Copyright and Trademarks Act.

Share release